The PNW Components Coast Stem is the perfect accompaniment to the super-wide Coast Bar, but it's also a good stem in its own right, with a really nifty adjustable mount and a lifetime warranty.
Stems must be the hardest bike thing to review. Lumps of metal that are easily overengineered to basically never fail, and being inherently light there's little to be gained shaving a few more grams using carbon or other exotic materials. So, aside from not making it look silly, how does a bike brand make its offer attractive to the market?
In the case of Seattle's PNW Components, once the basics were sorted ('Seven-degree rise do? Five lengths, yeah?') the answer was to help clean up your bars.
PNW designs stuff to be ridden long and in pretty places, so it's likely you'll be needing lights at some stage, or maybe a camera. Add in a bike computer and maybe a phone (quiet, you purists) already on the bar, and that's a fair jumble of stuff. Yes, you can go for out-front mounts from the likes of Quadlock to put things above/below, but they take up space themselves on the bar, and cost a pretty penny.
Plenty of stem manufacturers and accessory brands do mounts that get held on by the stem's bolts – I have a small box of them, accumulated over the years. None of them look pretty and they all cost money. So to declutter things, PNW has integrated a removable GoPro-style mount into the faceplate of the stem itself. And made it easily adjustable with a 3mm hex.
The result is simple and beautifully executed. A threaded alloy nut sits behind the stem faceplate, with a section of thread protruding slightly. Think of how a two-bolt SPD cleat bolts into a shoe – the threaded nut in your shoe can move back and forth in the same manner.
The mount itself is a strong plastic, with the usual three prongs of the GoPro design. Set into the mount pointing at the stem/nut is a 3mm hex bolt, which you thread partly in, then adjust the angle of the mount up/down to suit. With the faceplate done up to torque you get about 45 degrees of movement up/down; if you loosen the stem bolts slightly you get about 100 degrees – more than enough to get your accessory clearances right – just remember to re-torque them once done. The back of the nut is curved to match the stem, and you have to get the orientation right or it won't move at all.
Once you have the angle right and the mount secure, an included 3mm hex nut/bolt will secure your GoPro-style mount of choice.
This sounds complicated but it's so intuitive there are no instructions needed. And if you don't want it, the mount and nut are easily removed.
As mentioned, PNW recommends pairing the Coast stem with the mega-wide 480 or 520mm Coast bar. Therefore, it offers the Coast stem starting at a very short 60mm option, maxing out at 100mm. The wisdom is for every 20mm you go wider, you need a 10mm-shorter stem to keep upper body geometry tidy. For me, running the Coast 480mm bar, I'm down to an 80mm stem – despite having a 6ft 4in armspan (yes, yes, insert monkey noises here) and a typical 58cm/L-XL frame size.
Value-wise, yes it's £10 more than the Easton EA70 that Matt liked, but it's lighter and has a mount. It's £20-30 more than you could bag any one of a dozen generic stems for, although they are almost certainly going to weigh more, and also won't have mounts – which would also weigh north of 50-60g if you had to add one.
What price you put on the adjustable mount, and on matching any PNW bar, is the question. The Coast stem is also mountain biking rated according to PNW's website, so if you want to use it on a flat-bar bike, go ahead.
As mentioned in my review of the Coast bar, PNW is, I believe, the first bike component manufacturer to offer a lifetime warranty on its entire range of alloy components, usually reserved for high-end carbon components. As with the bar, the T&Cs exclude normal wear and tear as well as impact damage, as you'd expect, and again – how exactly you calculate 'normal wear and tear' on an alloy stem I'm not sure, so you should be good forever basically.
I believe every cyclist will at some stage find a use for the mount, and therefore combining the cost, the functionality and the warranty, along with the looks, the Coast stem represents pretty darn good value. If you really needed a mount but couldn't physically fit one, maybe on a maxed-out accessory setup with a narrow bar, it could be the answer to your Fettling prayers.
It's a brave new world this allroad-gravel gig, and brands like PNW are delivering the well-priced goods needed to make it fun and functional. In the Coast Stem it has an affordable, attractive, functional component that will look good on pretty much any bike, to get your stuff off the bar.
Very tidy and cost-effective way to get more handlebar mount space on your bike – plus it's a stem
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road.cc test report
Make and model: PNW Components Coast Stem
Size tested: 60, 70, 80, 90, 100mm lengths
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
It's for people wanting more stem mount options in a minimalist, easily removable way, matching their other PNW accessories.
When designing the Coast Stem we had two main goals: construct it to compliment the Coast Drop Bar and provide riders with an extra mount option for their gadgets.
GO GO GADGET
Get that footie or take a nighttime pedal. Each Coast Stem comes with a detachable mount compatible with many headlamp options, GoPros and other POV cameras.
The shorter stem, in tandem with a comfortable 7° rise, places your body in an ideal position for comfort while remaining aggressive.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
SPECS: COAST STEM
60mm, 70mm, 80mm, 90mm, 100mm
60mm - 111g / 70mm -117g / 80mm - 123g / 90mm - 129g / 100mm - 136g
Is there an option without the GoPro/light mount?
The short answer is no but the mount is easily removable if you don't want to use it!
Can I use the Coast Stem for mountain biking?
Yep! It's rated for mountain biking and is a great option for cross country bikes.
Which length is best for me?
Stem length is a heavily debated topic, and really comes down to personal preference. The key is to feel comfortable in the cockpit. If you are pairing this with the Coast Handlebar we recommend going down 10mm-20mm in stem length for every 20mm increase in bar width.
PNW lifetime Warranty
Very nicely made from quality materials and nicely finished.
It's stiff and holds the mount rock-solid.
It has a lifetime warranty, too.
It's at the lighter end of the spectrum for a mid-priced stem.
The 7-degree rise is a sweet spot for most riders, giving a relaxed upright position.
Compared to buying a stem and mount separately, it's great value.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Can't fault it.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The mount, obvs.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's at the more expensive end of the market just for a stem, but when you factor in you're getting an integrated mount as well, it's almost a bargain! And it has a lifetime warranty.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
Yes it's £60, but you're getting a lightish stem with a mount that would otherwise cost you £30 while adding weight, plus it looks great and has a lifetime warranty.
About the tester
I usually ride: Sonder Camino Gravelaxe My best bike is: Nah bro that's it
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: A few times a week I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: cyclo cross, general fitness riding, mtb, G-R-A-V-E-L